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Mid-South Hero: US Naval Sea Cadet Corps leader setting the example for generations to come

Updated: May. 10, 2021 at 9:48 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - One man is helping shape Mid-South youth into future leaders of tomorrow. His approach, revered by adults and children alike, makes him a Mid-South Hero.

It’s a program to anchor youth and help them set sail on a promising future.

“I’ve learned about leadership, confidence, respect and growth as a person,” said Sea Cadet Joshua Carroll.

Leadership from one man being called a hero as he creates future heroes, some preparing to defend our country.

“So a hero is somebody who heavily improves somebody’s life and Mike Ayers fits that hero role because he heavily improved the unit to be what it is today,” said Carroll.

Mike Ayers leads the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps.

This group of young people has an interest in seamanship, the military or other seagoing careers.

“You’re going to push yourself physically to places maybe you didn’t think you were capable of reaching,” said Ayers.

Sea Cadets must be crime-free, drug-free and in good health and go through a two-week boot camp as part of recruit training.

From there they move onto weekend and advanced training sessions, some even aboard naval vessels.

“The way this prepares them for life as a young adult -- first of all it gives them purpose,” said Ayers. “It teaches them how to take on a problem or a task and work to research and find solutions. Whether it’s filling out an application for college whether it’s talking to, if I’m interested in ROTC in college where do I go. Who do I see. What questions do I ask.”

It’s a program that needed a revamp and the cadets are responding to Ayers’ leadership.

“Mike Ayers stepped up and really brought the unit to the next level,” said Carroll.

“He draws out the best in all the adult leaders that he has, and loves to work with the teenagers and loves to see them rise through the ranks and achieve their goals,” said U.S .NAVY League Memphis Council President Cage Carruthers.

It’s a cause near to Ayers’ heart, his own children have benefited from this program.

“You know, I’m—I’m a hard-working parent like, like my staff members and the people I serve with in education,” said Ayers.

“And he tells them all the time ‘hey I was sitting right where you are, sitting right there interviewing, being interviewed to see If I wanted to join the sea cadets and my children wanted to join the sea cadets,’” said Carruthers.

Hard-working, and setting the example for generations to come.

“And so you’ve got to be able to, to leave the, leave it better than you found it, but also leave people in charge of it that are able and willing and capable of carrying it forward,” said Ayers.

Congratulations Mike Ayers you are this month’s Mid-South Hero.

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